The Springfield City Library recognizes that in order to fulfill its mission, library users must not feel constrained in their use of library resources because they fear invasion of personal privacy. The existence of such a possibility inhibits free usage of library resources and facilities and is contrary to the General Laws of Massachusetts.

That part of the records of a public library which reveals the identity and intellectual pursuits of a person using such library shall not be a public record…
General Laws of Massachusetts Chapter 78, Section 7

Confidentiality extends to information sought or received, and materials consulted, borrowed, and includes database search records, reference interviews, circulation records, interlibrary loan transactions, registration records, and all other personally identifiable uses of library materials, facilities, or services.

Circulation, registration, and information retrieval records may not be disclosed except to:

  1. Persons acting within the scope of their duties in the administration of the library system.
  2. Persons authorized by the cardholder to inspect the individual’s records or persons identified as “Designated Borrowers” by the cardholder.
  3. Representatives of any local, state, or federal government, pursuant to subpoena or search warrant authorized under the authority of federal, state, or local law relating to civil, criminal, or investigative power. Upon receipt of any such subpoena or search warrant, the Library Director will consult with the city Law Department to determine if the subpoena or search warrant is in proper form and if there is a valid basis for its issuance before providing confidential information.

The only exception to this policy is in the case of cardholders seventeen years old and younger, who have overdue fines of $10.00 or more or who have one billed item on their patron record. In this instance, a parent or legal guardian, upon supplying proper identification, will be provided with information about titles that are checked out on the minor’s library card. If library staff are unable to confirm the identity of the parent or guardian, no confidential information will be supplied.

Springfield City Library Policy and Procedures Regarding Retention of Confidential Information

  • Circulation Records: Patron material is circulated via the C/WMARS Innovative Interfaces automation system. The circulation software tracks materials currently checked out, automatically erasing a reader’s borrowing record once a book is returned. Fines paid information is retained in the patron’s record for 3-6 months. Information on the last person to have borrowed an item is retained in the ITEM record until another patron checks out the item.
  • Searches of the online public access catalog (OPAC): The Library does not require personal information to use the OPAC. OPAC searches are conducted via the C/WMARS Innovative Interfaces automation software. Once a search is completed, a patron may clear their own search history. The search history is also erased automatically whenever the web browser is closed. The software does not retain a copy of any search.
  • Electronic Databases and the Internet: Reservation procedures for library computers vary between the Central Library and its branches. In locations where patrons are required to use their library card to reserve a computer, no paper record with the patron’s information is generated. When the patron logs off of a library computer, the software erases all history of their research and activity. In locations where a paper reservation list is generated by library staff, all paper records are discarded at the end of each business day. Library patrons should be aware that the Springfield City Library and other Massachusetts library organizations license commercial databases from a variety of vendors. The Library will make every effort to restrict electronic database vendors from collecting and using identifying personal information of library users, however it provides no guarantee that personal information will not be shared with third parties.
  • Inter-Library Loan Records: Patrons may borrow items not owned by the Springfield City Library from other libraries within Massachusetts and nationally. The Springfield City Library tracks items currently being borrowed and generates a paper record with patron information. Once the materials are returned and all appropriate fines and/or fees are paid, the paper record is destroyed.
  • Reference Interviews: A reference interview occurs when a patron looking for information approaches a library staff member, who interviews the patron in order to narrow down the specific information needed. Reference librarians do not discuss patron inquiries with others except when consulting another librarian on a complex question. No paper record is kept during the interview that has any patron information on it. If a patron name and telephone number is taken by phone, the information is destroyed as soon as the information requested by the patron is delivered.
  • Security Cameras: Security cameras are installed throughout the Central Library to assist security personnel in monitoring and quickly responding to situations affecting the health and safety of library visitors and staff. Videotapes from security cameras are kept on file for 30 days, unless an incident occurs that requires holding the tape longer. Security camera tapes are only made available to law enforcement through a legal subpoena or warrant.

Approved by the Springfield Board of Library Commissioners on June 15, 2004